- Japan thrashed Australia in brutal style in the opening event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
- The host beat its opponent 8-1 in softball, invoking a “mercy rule” which saw the match end early.
- Due to time constraints some team sports have started two days before the Olympic opening ceremony.
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The Tokyo Olympics kicked off in style for hosts Japan on Wednesday, with the nation’s softball team thrashing its opponent 8-1 in the opening event of the games.
So impressive was the victory, Japan’s opponent Australia was forced to concede defeat early under softball’s “mercy rule.”
Also known as the “run-ahead rule” – the regulation prematurely ends a match when one team is winning by more than 15 runs in the third inning, 10 runs in the fourth inning, or seven runs in the fifth or sixth innings.
-WBSC ⚾???? #Tokyo2020 (@WBSC) July 21, 2021
While the majority of events at Tokyo 2020 don’t start until after Friday’s opening ceremony, some preliminary matches in team sports like softball and soccer are being played before the ceremony because of time constraints.
Japan is the defending softball gold medalist after upsetting the United States in the 2008 final in Beijing.
The sport, alongside baseball, was dropped for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games before being restored this year.
Pitcher Ueno Yukiko, who was part of the team that won gold in 2008, threw the first pitch of the match, recovering from a shaky start to allow Australia only two hits over four and a third innings.
While Ueno said afterwards that she was thrilled to be back on the Olympic stage, she also admitted she was disappointed that the team was unable to share its triumph with fans.
Wednesday’s match was played at an empty Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima, with spectators banned from watching due to rising COVID-19 cases across the country.
“It’s kind of a disappointment,” she said. “We wanted to demonstrate our play in front of people of Fukushima.”
Elsewhere in the opening round of softball, Canada beat Mexico 4-0, and the United States bested Italy 2-0.